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“Measuring the quality of the relationship between our mine and our communities is important. It enables us to gauge the success of our stakeholder engagement and socio-economic development initiatives and it also gives us the opportunity to reflect on what we have delivered and how we can improve in the future,”
Vice President Head of Community Relations,
Host communities are one of Gold Fields’ most important stakeholder and the company’s target is to spend at least 30% of its total value on host communities by 2030, up from its current level of 27% (US$913m) of the US$3.92bn). The gold company aims to achieve this through host community employment, procurement, and socio-economic development investments. While its business is built on three pillars of a strategy that reflects the group’s operational, ESG and growth priorities and supports its purpose to create enduring value beyond mining. The second pillar comprises meaningful investment in its host communities that they are operating in. Gold Fields has nine operating mines in Australia, Peru, South Africa and Ghana (including the Asanko JV) and two projects in Canada and Chile.
Headquarted in Johannesburg, South Africa with at least nine operating mines across the globe, the company believes that the greatest benefit it can provide is to empower host communities to build long-term social, economic, and environmental resilience that they require. The key to realizing this vision is constant engagement with host communities to address their most pressing development needs. It has successful projects that they had implemented in collaboration with local governments and NGOs for the benefit of the host communities. Some of the projects include their partnership with Sibanye Still Water at South Deep Mine, the construction of two community clinics in the Thusanang and Pilani, South Deep Mine partnership with the YES4Youth programme among others.
South Deep Mine facilitated a collective responsibility for development when they partnered with Sibanye Stillwater, the municipality and communities and created a consultative development forum where the community and its representatives can talk about its development needs. South deep Mine also funded the construction of two community clinics in the Thusanang and Pilani host communities over the past few years and after that South Deep reached an agreement with the Rand West City local municipality to fund another clinic in the neighboring Hillshaven community. The community can currently only access a mobile clinic once a week, and the new clinic will address their needs by providing regular primary healthcare services. As if that was not enough, the company has donated previous single-quarter facilities, valued at R900 000 and has budgeted R2 million to complete the conversion to a clinic, which is slated for completion in late 2023. The project has created eight permanent jobs since construction commenced in Q2 of 2022. Alison Burger, Gold Fields Vice President Head of Community Relations remarked that, “It’s impossible for us to be successful as a mining company if the communities that host us remain stuck in poverty. As an organisation, we seek to deliver value in partnerships and communities that are critical stakeholders, particularly in South Africa, Ghana and Peru where communities are near to our mines.”
As one of social responsibility to create employment for local youths, South Deep partnered with the YES4Youth programme, which aims to connect young South Africans to work opportunities. Gold Fields committed to providing 84 entry-level learning opportunities (39 in the mining field and 45 in the services fields) to YES4Youth candidates in 2022. The development was done to assist in creating a pipeline of trained individuals in South Deep’s host communities. Through that programme, the company employed the first 39 young cadets (15 females and 24 males) in April 2022 and the remaining 45 young cadets (28 females and 17 males) in June 2022. The trainees gain skills and experience to enter the broader job market through a 12-month experiential training programme, including on-site training in production assistant roles, basics of business as well as designation and workplace-specific safety among other technical training. South Deep has committed to taking on 40 YES4Youth candidates each year over the next five years at an annual cost of R3 million to R4 million. As of last year, statistics showed that the company provided 10,771 jobs to the host communities in the mining value chain, 2653 were employees, 6820 were contractors, 444 suppliers and 794 non-mining jobs.
Burger said, “Measuring the quality of the relationship between our mine and our communities is important. It enables us to gauge the success of our stakeholder engagement and socio-economic development initiatives and it also gives us the opportunity to reflect on what we have delivered and how we can improve in the future,”
Moreover, the construction of the Thusanang clinic by South Deep had the most sustained impact in its host communities as the clinic does not only provides much needed medical services to the 8,000 residents of the Thusanang informal settlement but is also a facility accessed and frequently used by the people of the broader Rand West municipality. The company injected R1.4 million into the project and was completed in October 2016. Of all the services the community lacked, access to health facilities was always the greatest burden for the community to bear. Prior to October 2016, the only access to such services was a mobile clinic that visited the community once a week. It is for this reason that South Deep identified the provision of health care as a priority project. As well as bringing much needed medical services to the area, the clinic also employed six local members of the Thusanang community on a permanent basis, which is another way that South Deep has contributed to the economic upliftment of its host communities.
The establishment of South Deep Trusts helps build the communities as it aided the establishement of Kagiso Day Centre and Philani Community Development Centre. The Kagiso Day Care Centre has been taking care of children in the Hillside community for many years and was established in 2008 and offers three classes, beginning with pre-grade R. South Deep Trusts also provided funding to the Philani Community Development Centre that was utilized to register and make compliant 32 community cooperatives, with the support of the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP). The grant impacted more than 280 people, who also received skills development training as part of the process and 56% of the cooperatives were already generating an income. Phyllis Malope, Philani Community Development Centre Founder and Executive Director said, “The South Deep Community Trust contribution to Philani has allowed beneficiaries to gain skills, knowledge on trade, governance and business management, and support them with tools to start their businesses independently.”
Sven Lunsche, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, articulates that communities have immense power when it comes to a mine’s social license to operate, “If you build a school or a clinic, it doesn’t help Gold Fields directly in terms of financial benefit or cost savings, but it does strengthen our social license to operate. It also makes the community aware that you are a positive presence and not a company that has a negative social and environmental impact. We must make sure that they receive meaningful benefits otherwise they potentially could disrupt our operations.”
Furthermore, Gold Fields also launched an agricultural programme in 2016 in Ghana named ‘Youth in Organic Horticulture Production’ (YouHop), with the aim to encourage the youth in communities adjacent to its Tarkwa and Damang mines into vegetable cultivation. Gold Fields Ghana and the German Government’s development agency committed EUR800 000 to the three-year project, which was designed to create employment and improve incomes for about 1 000 young people in those communities. Gold Fields provided funding and other forms of assistance including equipment and farming inputs. To ensure the sustainability of the programme, a cooperative credit union was instituted, which is a community-based financing system that provides low interest credit facilities and business advisory services for the programme’s participants. Training was also provided in both improved traditional farming practices and organic vegetable production, as well as assistance for producers to organize themselves into farmer co-operatives and build their leaders’ capacities to establish community-based credit unions.
In conclusion, the company’s sound corporate social responsibilities and a commitment to transparency strengthen its work on CSR priorities and for the past ten years, it has been ranked among the top five mining companies on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index which reports against the leading global reporting and sustainability frameworks, including the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board and the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).